Still pondering reactions to the Hobby Lobby case


The full-page ad recently placed in the New York Times by the Freedom From Religion Foundation




I guess I’m still just really not understanding this:


If Frankie isn’t compelled by the government to buy the widget and give it to Johnny, Frankie is denying Johnny the right to have a widget?


Is that the principle?


My right to have X entails your obligation to buy it for me?


If you aren’t compelled to buy X for me, that means that I’ve been deprived of the right to have it?


Corollary principle:  If the Little Sisters of the Poor resist being compelled by the state, against their moral scruples, to buy contraceptives for those who have freely contracted to work for them, they’re wicked theocrats who are trying to impose their religious views on others?  (For such an attack, see here.)




Senator Harry Reid and others have pointed out that the Supreme Court majority who ruled for Hobby Lobby were all male, which apparently, in the critics’ view, delegitimizes that decision to some extent or other.


I assume, however, that such critics regard the famous Roe v. Wade abortion decision as completely legitimate, despite the fact that the Supreme Court that rendered it (7-2) was entirely male.




It’s true that all of the female justices on the Supreme Court — Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg — dissented from the majority in the Hobby Lobby case.  (They were joined by Justice Stephen Breyer.)  But it’s not obvious that gender is the controlling or relevant factor here.  Shouldn’t it be mentioned that all three of those female justices (and, for that matter, Justice Breyer) are political liberals?  In other words, could the contents of their minds, the substance of their ideologies, be at least as relevant to their position on the case as their anatomies?




Some, rather shamefully but without any apparent shame, have suggested that the current Supreme Court is too Catholic.  (There are, as it happens, no Protestants, and certainly no Mormons!, on the Court.)  In the Hobby Lobby case, these critics have noted, all five of those in the majority — Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito — are Roman Catholics.  Does their disproportionate influence adequately represent the variety of the American population?  Doesn’t their decision suggest that they’re acting out the socially conservative and even misogynistic views of Rome?  (Jack Kennedy, call your office!)


To their possible credit, these critics don’t seem to lament the “disproportionate” influence of Jews on the court.  (Fully one third of the current Supreme Court — Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Ginsburg — are Jewish, whereas only somewhere between 0.01 and 0.02 of the general population of the United States is Jewish.)  All three of the Jews on the Court dissented from the Hobby Lobby decision.  Do the decision’s critics really want to portray the court as divided along religious lines?  Is this the direction they want to go?  And have they forgotten that one of the dissenters, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is herself a Roman Catholic?




The woman pictured in the Freedom From Religion Foundation ad above (“Her motto: ‘No gods — No masters”) is the birth control activist Margaret Sanger (d. 1966), the founder of Planned Parenthood.


Here’s a historical footnote about the late Ms. Sanger:  Her motto could accurately have been expanded to read “No blacks–No inferior people.”  She was an ardent advocate of eugenics.



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